By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Collision (Episode 7)
Hartford, Connecticut at XL Center
Aired live July 29, 2023 on TNT
[Hour One] Collision opened with brief promos. Darby Allin said he was looking for a fight. MFJ and Adam Cole spoke about their tag title match. MJF said he’s going to smash Dax Harwood’s nuts in. Cole said they would win the tag titles. FTR spoke briefly and said to be ready for a fight… The Collision opening aired…
Pyro shot off on the stage and then Ian Riccaboni and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Ring announcer Dasha handled the introductions for the ladder match…
1. Andrade El Idolo vs. Buddy Matthews (w/Julia Hart) in a ladder match. McGuinness noted that this was a rematch from the Collision premiere episode. Andrade’s mask was elevated above the ring as the object the wrestlers must reach in order to win the match.
Early in the match, Andrade moonsaulted off a ladder set on at ringside onto Matthews on the floor. Ladders were brought into the ring. Andrade tossed Matthews crashing into a ladder that was leaning in one corner of the ring. Matthews threw a ladder at Andrade.
Matthews held his left arm at his side and headed to ringside to have it examined by the trainer heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C] Andrade made a play for the mask. Matthews rushed back to stop him. Riccaboni said the trainer readjusted the shoulder of Matthews during the break.
Matthews created a ladder bridge by wedging a ladder between the rungs of another ladder and draping the other end of the ladder of the apron. Matthews placed a ladder over the apron and the broadcast table on the other side of the ring. Matthews set up for a powerbomb from the apron, but Andrade stuffed it. Matthews blasted Andrade with a knee to the head.
Matthews returned to the ring and traded strikes with Andrade, who was on the apron. They ended up reversing positions after Andrade stuffed a Draping DDT attempt. Andrade dove through the ropes to spear Murphy, causing both men to land on the ladder set up over the apron and the broadcast table.
Matthews pulled a chair out from underneath the ring and set it up in a corner of the ring. Matthews slammed Andrade’s head against the table multiple times. Matthews made a play for the mask, but Andrade tipped the ladder over. Andrade caught Matthews with an elbow, causing Matthews to land on the ladder bridge.
Andrade climbed the ladder that was set up on the floor and called for Matthews to join him. Matthews climbed up the other side and they traded blows. Andrade slammed Matthews head on the ladder and then performed a sunset bomb that sent Matthews crashing onto the ladder bridge. The crowd chanted holy shit.
Andrade returned to the ring and made a play for the mask. Matthews pulled him off and hit him with a knee on the way down. Hart showed off a pair of handcuffs. Matthews pushed Andrade over to the apron. Hart attached the handcuffs to Andrade and the turnbuckle.
Hart taunted Andrade with the key. Andrade kicked a chair at the face of Matthews. Hart let go of the key while tending to Matthews. Andrade freed himself and ended up cuffing Matthews to the turnbuckle. Andrade threw the key out of the ring. Hart got bolt cutters for Matthews. When he didn’t free himself quickly enough, Hart climbed onto the back of Andrade while he climbed up the ladder.
Matthews eventually freed himself and climbed the other side of the ladder, but Andrade shoved him down. Hart ended up on opposite side of the ladder from Andrade and slapped him a few times. Andrade shoved Hart off the ladder and into the arms of Matthews before they both crashed through the table set up in the corner of the ring. Andrade took the mask down to win the match…
Andrade El Idolo defeated Buddy Matthews in a ladder match in roughly 18:00.
Powell’s POV: A wild ladder match match. The handcuffs and bolt cutters weren’t for me, but both wrestlers worked really hard and took some wild bumps. Fortunately, Hart’s bump of the apron was safe in that Matthews caught her before bumping through the table.
Miro was interviewed by Tony Schiavone in the backstage area. Schiavone asked Miro about the battle he said was coming soon. Before Miro could answer, he was hit from behind by a chair swung by Aaron Solo. Miro quickly fought him off and slammed the chair over his back…
Darby Allin made his entrance while the broadcast team recalled him saying that he was looking for a fight… [C]
Minoru Suzuki made his entrance as Allin’s surprise opponent. Allin dropkicked Suzuki off the apron. Allin followed up with a suicide dive and pretty much missed Suzuki, but he got up and worked him over. Allin set up a chair on the floor and sat Suzuki on it before biting his head. Allin, who had his ribs wrapped, went to the apron and dropkicked the seated Suzuki.
2. Darby Allin vs. Minor Suzuki. Once both men were inside the ring, the referee called for the opening bell. Allin immediately covered Suzuki for a two count. Suzuki sat up and flashed a mean face. Allin hit him with an elbow, then Suzuki returned the favor and dropped Allin. Suzuki pulled the rib wrap off of Allin heading into a PIP break. [C]
Suzuki choked Allin with the wrapping during and coming out of the break. Allin chopped Suzuki, who no-sold it. Suzuki took another and then knocked Allin over with a chop of his own. Allin hit him with another, which Suzuki shrugged off. Allin shoved Suzuki and told him to bring it. Suzuki knocked Allin off his feet with another chop.
Suzuki put his arms behind his back. Allin slapped him and then hit him with a shot to the gut before performing a sunset flip for a two count. Suzuki got up and caught Allin in a sleeper and set up for the Gotch style piledriver, but Allin escaped. Allin ended up going for the Coffin Drop, but Suzuki caught him in a rear naked choke. Allin rolled over onto Suzuki, who maintained the hold while Allin got the three count.
Darby Allin beat Minoru Suzuki in 8:15.
After the match, Christian Cage and Luchasaurus appeared on the big screen. Cage applauded Allin and told him it was a hell of a win and it seemed like he was ready for his TNT Title shot. Cage said Allin seemed to have a lot going on and he couldn’t be distracted during their match. Cage said the title is more prestigious than it’s ever been now that it’s over his shoulder, and Allin is no longer qualified to hold it…
Powell’s POV: That was an unexpected blast. I didn’t know Allin was wrestling on the show let alone Suzuki. I’m all for creating the feel that you never know who might show up. It’s tough to do at times because it’s logical to advertise stars or matches that are likely to draw ratings, but it made sense to do it on this show when they have a hot main event.
A video package featured Toni Storm talking about her AEW Women’s Title defense against Hikaru Shida, which will be held on Wednesday’s Dynamite. Storm said that if Shida even thinks about using her kendo stick, Shida will end up needing to use it to get around…
Samoa Joe made his entrance. His opponent Gravity was already in the ring…
3. ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe vs. Gravity in a non-title match. Gravity did his silly walk, which Joe and the live crowd weren’t impressed by. Joe side stepped a Gravity move from the ropes and then mocked his silly walk, which got a rise out of the crowd. Joe hit the Muscle Buster moments later and scored the pin…
ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe defeated Gravity in 2:15 in a non-title match.
A graphic listed CM Punk as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: Gravity really needs to ditch the corny walk if he’s going to be a babyface. The pacing of this show has been closer to Dynamite than what we’ve seen on past Collisions, but it’s worked so far tonight because the show is off to a really strong start.
Tony Schiavone stood in the ring and introduced CM Punk, who came out to a mixed reaction with the red title belt bag in his hand. There was a CM Punk chant while Punk stood on the apron and faced the crowd while showing off his “I’m A Collision Guy” t-shirt.
The boos started up again once Punk’s music stopped playing. He stopped Schiavone to listen to the boos. Schiavone asked him what was in the bag. Punk asked the crowd how they were doing. Punk spoke of bad travel and said he just arrived a couple hours earlier. Punk said he would always make his town.
Punk brought up Wembley Stadium and asked if he was the first AEW wrestler to mention it. Punk questioned whether he would be on the show and said maybe we’ll find out later in the night while adding that it had a lot to do with what was in the bag.
Punk brought up Ricky Starks beating him in a singles match and then winning last week’s tag team match. Punk said he was more upset about that one for Darby Allin, who took the loss.
Punk turned the focus to the red bag. He spoke about responsibility and how you have to wake up sometimes and do the responsible thing because you’re the responsible adult in the room. That got a rise out of the crowd. Punk cupped his ear. Punk said Starks seems to be mistaking his kindness for weakness.
Punk said he told Starks in the back that he wasn’t going to be nice anymore. He said the truth doesn’t care if you’re nice, it’s about being right or wrong. Punk pulled out the AEW World Championship title belt. He said it’s the real world title and it has its name on it because he earned it and no one has beaten him for it.
Punk said it had his name and his blood on the belt, and now it would have his symbol on it. Punk spray painted an X on the belt. Punk said the X has represented him since 1997 and is the foundation that he has built his career on.
Punk said the X means he’s Straight Edge and Straight Edge means he’s better than you. Punk said the title is his and it belongs on Collision. Punk said the title is not stolen, unlike his catchphrase. Punk said he’s the real world champion and held the belt up above his head.
Ricky Starks walked out with a mic and said he needed a proper entrance. Starks ran backstage and then his music played and he made his entrance. Starks posed on the ropes. Punk held his arm and looked at his wrist as if he was checking the time.
[Hour Two] Starks said he’s sold on gold. Starks said he got Punk before he could get him, and he said Punk would have done the same thing. Starks spoke about beating Punk and said that he’s the real world champion and the face of Collision.
Punk asked Starks if he’s the face of Collision or the face of cheating. Punk asked if Starks beat him or if the refs beat him. Starks said he could have Stevie Wonder as the referee and he’d still win. Punk said it sounded like Starks wanted a title shot.
Punk said he didn’t blame the referees because it was a thankful job, but if he’s going to face Starks again, then he needed extra eyeballs. Starks said that was fine because it’s no secret that Punk doesn’t have any friends around here. Starks said Punk could dig in his past and bring out Julio Dinero or Dave Prazak or go to Stamford to get someone. Starks said he didn’t care because if he did it once, he could do it twice.
Punk said he anticipated this and made some phone calls. Punk asked Starks if he wanted a shot at the champ. Starks said he did. Punk and Starks shook hands while Schiavone said the match would take place next week on AEW Collision.
Punk told Schiavone that he could do the honors. Schiavone announced that the special referee would be Ricky Steamboat. Punk looked confidently at Starks, who was thrown off by the announcement. Riccaboni said Steamboat has never broken a single rule and is the most straight and narrow athlete he’s ever seen…
Powell’s POV: Wow, there’s a lot to unpack there and only so much time to do it during a live review. I thought the main takeaway would end up being Punk bringing back his Straight Edge catchphrase he’s used as a heel. But Punk came off like a babyface the rest of the way, including when it was announced that he’s bringing in Steamboat to serve as the special referee. This was a strong segment and gives next week’s show a hot main event while the show runs opposite SummerSlam.
A video package spotlighted the AEW Tag Team Title main event… Entrances for the six-man tag team match took place…
4. Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn vs. El Hijo del Vikingo, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti. They cut to a PIP break during the opening minute of the match. [C] Robinson had a life sized Jay White cardboard cut-out at ringside. Funny.
There was a fun spot where Vikingo’s partners launched him off the top rope and he flipped onto all three opponents. In the ring, Martin performed a scary looking German suplex on Austin. Colten took out Andretti with a forearm to the back of the head. Austin tagged his brother in, and the Gunns hit the 3:10 To Yuma on Martin. Colten covered Martin and got the three count…
Juice Robinson, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn beat El Hijo del Vikingo, Darius Martin, and Action Andretti in 7:00.
Afterward, the heels celebrated with the White cut-out in the middle of the ring… The women’s match was listed as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: This was fun while it lasted. I was worried about Austin after he took that German suplex and he looked wobbly for a few seconds after the match, but it appears he was just selling because then he launched into an over the top celebration.
5. Mercedes Martinez vs. Kiera Hogan. Both entrances were televised. Martinez had offensive control going into a PIP break. [C] Martinez performed a wicked suplex late in the match. She applied her submission finisher for the win.
Mercedes Martinez beat Kiera Hogan in 5:35.
Martinez didn’t release the hold right away. TBS Champion Kris Statlander ran out with her title belt, causing Martinez to release the hold and exit the ring. Statlander put her belt down and checked on Hogan. Martinez returned to the ring, grabbed the belt, and hit Statlander with it. Martinez stood over Statlander and jawed at her. Willow Nightingale came out, causing Martinez to leave the ring again. Willow helped Hogan get to her feet…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Martinez back and apparently being set up for matches against Statlander and Willow. I’ve enjoyed Hogan’s work going back to her Impact run, but she hasn’t received much creative love since arriving in AEW.
McGuinness ran through the list of previously advertised matches for the 200th edition of AEW Dynamite. Riccaboni reminded viewers about Punk vs. Starks for Punk’s title on next week’s Collision, then hyped the main event as coming up next… [C]
Dasha said the main event was one fall with the time limit being the television time remaining. MJF and Adam Cole made their entrance dressed in matching gear. FTR’s entrance followed. There were some boo birds for FTR. There were “Double Clothesline” and “FTR” dueling chants before the opening bell.
6. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. MJF and Adam Cole for the AEW Tag Team Titles. The chants continued as the match got underway. Riccaboni said the winning team will defend the titles against Big Bill and Brian Cage on next week’s Collision.
MJF did a leapfrog over Harwood and sold his left ankle. He got to his feet and took a cheap shot at Harwood. MJF teased kicking Harwood in the balls, but Harwood reached the ropes. Harwood shoved MJF, who returned the favor. Harwood threw a hard slap to MJF’s face. MJF returned the favor. The partners ran in and then all four men traded punches going into a PIP break. [C]
Cole hit a Backstabber on Wheeler and then rolled legal man Harwood into a pin for a two count. Harwood came back with a crossbody block from the second rope for a two count of his own. Harwood rolled up Cole for another two. Harwood went for another move from the middle rope and ate a superkick. Cole covered him for a close near fall.
MJF worked up the crowd and led them in yelling “double clothesline.” Cole tagged in MJF and they went for the move on Harwood, who ducked it. Moments later, Cole hit superkicks on both FTR members. MJF held up Wheeler and then Cole kicked him into MJF’s inverted piledriver, which resulted in another good near fall.
FTR battled back. Harwood superplexed Cole and then Wheeler hit a top rope splash. Harwood made the cover for close near fall. Harwood could have stopped Cole from tagging out, but he looked at MJF, released Cole, and motioned for MJF to bring it.
MJF and Harwood traded shots. MJF poked Harwood in the eye, but then ran into a punch. MJF rolled Harwood into a pin for a two count. Harwood responded with a slingshot powerbomb for a near fall. An “AEW” chant broke out followed by “fight forever.”
Harwood went to the ropes. Cole cut him off and then clotheslined Wheeler on the floor. MJF hit Harwood with a Shattered Dreams kick and covered him, but Wheeler broke up the pin at the last moment. Cole superkicked a kneeling Wheeler. Cole set up for his finisher, but Wheeler cut him off.
FTR set up for their finisher on Cole, but MJF shoved his partner out of the way. FTR tried to hit the Big Rig on MJF, but he blocked it. MJF set up for his piledriver on Wheeler, but Harwood rolled up MJF and pinned him clean.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler defeated MJF and Adam Cole in 17:55 to retain the AEW Tag Team Titles.
Riccaboni said it’s been a long time since we’ve seen MJF pinned. He pointed out that MJF did the most selfless thing he’s ever done by saving Cole from the FTR finisher. Cole shook hands with both FTR members, who left the ring while MJF was seated in the corner showing frustration over his loss.
Wheeler yelled into the camera that no one should ever doubt MJF. In the ring. MJF told Cole that he blew it. Cole told him that they blew it. Cole brought MJF his title belt and told him that it’s okay. Cole told MJF that he loves him. Cole played to the crowd in the opposite corner.
MJF teased hitting Cole with the title belt. Cole picked up on it without turning his back. Cole said he knew it and then told MJF to do what he had to do. Cole held his arms up and kept his back toward MJF, who threw his title belt down. Cole turned around and then he and MJF shared a hug in the middle of the ring.
MJF picked up his title belt. Cole pointed to MJF and told the crowd that MJF is the world’s champion. MJF stood on the middle rope and held up his title belt, then dropped down and hugged Cole again. MJF held up Cole’s arm and they both played to the crowd to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A hot main event followed by a terrific post match scene. The longer they can stretch things out between MJF and Cole the better. Put aside the buddy videos and dance contests and just listen to the crowd or look at the ratings for their segments. Of course, the tough part is that this company has two major events coming up, so I’m not sure how long they will be able to keep this going if the plan is to have MJF vs. Cole on either show.
Overall, an excellent show. FTR continued their run of great tag team title defenses, the MJF and Cole saga is a blast, and the Punk promo segment along with the angle to set up his match with Starks were both strong. There’s a lot to like about Collision. We’ll find out if birthday boy Will Pruett shares my enthusiasm for this episode when he checks in with his audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons) later tonight or on Sunday. Let me know what you thought by grading this episode below.